By Akhil Prakash-
Akhil is a resident of Chennai and I lifelong Chennai Super Kings fan. The 29-year-old is a marketing professional and has not missed a single CSK game held in Chennai. For him, cricket is CSK and CSK is cricket. And here, Akhil pens down an open letter to his beloved franchise.
The coronavirus, job losses, salary cuts and a nationwide lockdown. We’ve endured it all in the past 6 months and we stayed strong, until the final nail in the coffin was hammered down on us – MS Dhoni’s decision to retire from international cricket. Yes, MS Dhoni is arguably India’s biggest cricketing icon, but for the people of Chennai he is a lot more. In Chennai, ‘Thala’ is not just a cricketer or the captain of the local cricket team – he’s the heartbeat of our city. And on 15th August 2020, when Chennai just began to get back on its feet, the announcement from Dhoni was more painful than the months of hardship that preceded it. That’s exactly why this IPL is so much more special for every CSK fan. It marks the return of our Thala, and with it brings that sense of “everything will be fine, now that Dhoni is here”.
Against the backdrop of Dhoni’s big comeback, lies a crucial battle. Four times we played the Mumbai Indians last season and four times we ended up on the losing side. It always hurts to lose a game against MI, but the Final of 2019 was excruciatingly painful. This season is the first time that the men in yellow will take the field without Mr. IPL. Suresh Raina has been at the core of all 5 titles that the Chennai Super Kings have won. CSK will not only miss his runs with the bat but also his energy on the field. Missing out on Harbhajan Singh will also mean that off spinning duties might have to be borne by Kedar Jadhav if the need arises.
Irrespective of the bumpy start that CSK have gotten off to this year, the belief in this team is unwavering for millions of its fans. And that belief has been inculcated over a number of years and countless experiences that this team and its fans have undergone together. A two-year ban, being trolled as the ‘Dad’s Army’, inability to play at Chepauk on our return and the loss by 1 run in the Final last season – one thing is certain: Chennai Super Kings isn’t a team to support for the faint hearted. A cricket team that traverses beyond the realms of merely being a cricket team to having ingrained itself into the very fibre of Chennai. Going to Chepauk to watch CSK play live is an experience like no other, where the sea of yellow comes together every time that the Chennai Super Kings are in town.
This year as the IPL returns, what returns to Chennai is hope, belief and a lot of joy that CSK bring with them. We’re painting the town yellow yet again and let it be clear that we’re coming for that 4th IPL title.
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